Gyena Iliya

Gyena Iliya

CEO of Farmer1st

Gyena Iliya - Member of the Business Council for Emerging Markets


Gyena Iliya is the visionary CEO of Farmer1st, a pioneering agrotech platform dedicated to revolutionizing the agricultural sector by providing critical market access and credit facilities to farmers and traders. With an indomitable spirit and an unwavering commitment to fostering growth within the agriculture industry, Iliya has led Farmer1st to become a cornerstone in the emerging markets business council of the International Trade Council.

Iliya's journey in the agricultural sector began with a modest initiative that aimed to provide market access to fewer than 100 farmers in 2018. This endeavor quickly expanded, showcasing Iliya's deep understanding of the sector's challenges and opportunities. With over eight years of experience in agro-consulting, farming, and farm management, Iliya's expertise has been instrumental in the development and success of Farmer1st.

Under Iliya's leadership, Farmer1st has achieved remarkable milestones, including the registration of 23,000 farmers on its platform within a single month and establishing access to over 400,000 farmers through partnerships with agriculture cooperatives across various states. These accomplishments are a testament to Iliya's strategic vision and his ability to forge meaningful connections within the industry.

Iliya takes pride in Farmer1st's partnerships with major agricultural commodities exchanges, including AFEX Commodity Exchange, Lagos Commodities and Future Exchange (LCFE), and Sabex Commodity, owned by Sterling Bank PLC. These collaborations have led to transactions exceeding 300,000 USD and the storage of close to 7,000 bags of grains. Furthermore, Farmer1st's partnership with USAID and Lofty Inc on the Sparrow project exemplifies Iliya's dedication to providing affordable farm inputs to farmers, thereby enhancing their productivity and livelihood.

The agriculture industry has evolved significantly since Iliya first embarked on his career, driven by an increasing global population and a corresponding surge in food demand. Despite facing challenges such as limited access to financial services for farmers, poor market access, and inefficient storage and transport facilities, Iliya remains optimistic about the industry's future. He envisions a world where advancements in technology and a rising global population lead to heightened food demand, presenting both challenges and opportunities for innovation in agriculture production.

Iliya is particularly excited about the introduction of new technologies such as Farmer Pay, a mobile credit banking platform, and the Farmer1st website, which offers farmers unparalleled access to markets and competitive prices for their produce. His advice to newcomers in the industry is to start small and scale up gradually, emphasizing the importance of resilience and problem-solving in overcoming setbacks.

Beyond his professional achievements, Iliya enjoys reading, traveling, and brainstorming new ideas, reflecting his continuous pursuit of knowledge and innovation. Inspired by industry giants like Glencore and Cargill, Gyena Iliya's journey in the agricultural sector is a compelling narrative of leadership, vision, and transformative impact, making him a distinguished member of the International Trade Council's Emerging Markets Business Council.